Tag Archives: rants

Festering political disillusion and Carrotcake Muffins. Whoo hoo.

My garden is very frosty and in some desperate need of attention.  This morning I wandered around it with a cup of tea putting off the washing up which recently, despite the purple bowl, has assumed Sisyphus status with me.

It doesn’t help that the paved bit by the house is covered with stuff. Stuff that needs a skip. Or some kind of organising. Like the defunct fridge freezer adding that whitegoods trash atmosphere to the air.

I was full of good intentions this autumn about gathering up the fallen leaves to bag up for future leaf mould but have instead left it to do its moulding all over the path, plants and minipond. I think I’m in a slight grey slough after a very happy christmas and birthday season.

 Now begins the uphill slog to my birthday. Wasn’t it blue monday yesterday? The statistical low point of the year. Yay…. 

*shuffles feet, has another drag of tea*

I see plenty of loveliness among the clutter. Bare branches reaching into the pale sky makes my heart soar and ache with the patterned architectural beauty. The birds are clearly visible perching and twisting like acrobatic baubles, squabbling over berries .  There is a gang of rowdy tits shoving each other around our bird feeder, fascinating Ida and Mittens who  crouches by the back door lashing her tail ferociously.

The frost has blackened even the bindweed. I know that a mornings red-cheeked work will clear all the wizened overgrowth into my green bin leaving a clear canvas for my bulbs and this year’s garden dreaming.

I admire the uneven patio area under the pergola. Progress is like the tide coming in isn’t it? Three steps forward, two back, two forward, one back. On and on, creeping along.

 It fits with my experience of living with depression as well. Sometimes walking, sometimes crawling. Some nights giving all you  have to cling to the rock face. To stay still. Then other times letting yourself drift back with the swell, taking a breath, biding your time to start swimming upstream again.

I also think all the recent washing up has exposed me to too many politicians on Radio4. I feel incensed and kind of powerless. Never a good combination. Most recently I’ve been internally turmoiling over all the Worrell Thompson media coverage and comparing his celebrity caution with some of the sentencing handed out to teenagers shoplifting during the summers rioting.

Yes, yes – I know it’s not the same – taking a bottle of water during a riot is a different proposition but once again I reflect on how sentencing data would look pushed through a class filter. This ties in with a deeper rage against Cameron’s proposal dealing with “problem families” the language of which physically turned my stomach.

May I humbly suggest, tugging my fucking cap and all that, that he could lift his blinkered gaze to the system that has grown these “problem families.” Although the money thrown at this problem will surely be welcomed by the agencies and charities on the frontline applying pressure on the critical wounds, it’s like spending a fortune on the rash and not curing the virus that’s causing it. Or feeding the starving then sending them back to the ravished homelands. I could go on.

Above all it was the emotive, media spun, them and not us, disgustingly elitist and evidently ignorant language that truly turned my stomach. My feeling of dislocation from the etonesque boys who govern me grows ever stronger. Like a splinter in my hand it festers.

So I made some cakes.

I’d recommend these, they’re lovely. Do-able with a small helper as well.

Carrotcake muffins.

You need..

100g of sugar. Brown is best, I use whatever I have, today; muscovado.

175ml sunflower oil.

220g flour (plain)

2 eggs

tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon (or mixed spice, sometimes I add ground ginger as well)

citrus fruit zest. Lemon or orange – or both

150g grated carrot (about 2)

something else. About 100g. Walnuts, mixed peel, sultanas etc

Mix the sugar and oil together.

Add the eggs.

Add the flour, spices and bi-carb and baking powder.

Fold in the grated carrot, zest and whatever you’re adding that’s extra. In this case, left over mixed peel.

Slop Spoon generously into muffin cases.

Cook in a medium oven until golden and a knife comes clean. About 20 minutes.

I iced these with a lime icing. Just icing sugar mixed with lime juice.

They definitely soothed the savage beast. That and tea with friends and a couple of chapters of the Snow Spider on the sofa with Zeph.

Ennui and rage

Ida and I went on to the park after we had dropped Zeph at school today. We had nothing on our to do list except make tea so thought we’d take advantage of the early sun.

We had the entire park to ourselves except for a very serious muscle man doing pull ups on the climbing frame and grunting a lot. He didn’t stay that long as Ida decided to stand at his knees and grunt back at him.

Clearly not accustomed to children he fled.

I’m quite fond of the playground at the park. Possibly because I’m comparing it with the playground we sometimes cross on the way home. The one Z calls the broken glass playground. I’m sure you can form your own inner city mental picture.

At least there’s grass and trees here although also the usual quota of disaffected yoof. Breaking all the baby swings – damn them.

Ida is really independent at the playground – way more than Z was. Although she’s quite happy for you to come along on the car trip she’d rather play on stuff by herself – woe betide the adult who tries to lend a hand so the playground experience is pretty relaxing. You can even read a paper..

I love this picture – it really captures that crazy sunny light just before the storm. For once I actually managed to time it so we were stepping back through our front door as the heavens open.

Also I’m enjoying Ida’s glee at unimpeded access to the highly coveted teenager roost area.

 Okay – I actually wrote this post a couple of days ago, and halfway through writing it was submerged under a tidal wave of ennui and had to save and GET OUT! Now the obvious thing would be to delete and start again with something a bit more gripping but where’s the authentic self in that?  Often my life seems nails-in-the-eyes tedious. I’m sure we’re all in the same boat.

Of course I’m blogging about mine. *cough*

Today was more eventful – my lovely friend Erika dropped by in the morning to find the keys in the door and the house empty. I arrived back with Ida and a load of shopping to find a gentle note in the door. We waited, abashed, in the garden for her to call back after her work appointment.

I am very white queenishly chaotic at the moment. When I’m particularly clumsy I always suspect my subconscious of trying to sabotage me.  A bit of introspection doesn’t reveal much out of the ordinary – all the usual angst present and correct. Possibly that’s the problem as I’m sick to the back teeth of them all. Gah, double gah.

Anyway my lovely angel of mercy arrived on her bike with the most amazing dress she’s crocheted for Ida – she took some beautiful photo’s in the garden for Ravelry. I’ve taken some after dinner. So you’ve got extra yoghurt, felt tipped cats whiskers and Idas careful choice of red welly boot which gives her the air of a deranged gogo dancer.

 

How great are those sleeves? I love it. She originally suggested I might be up to it but I’m sooooooo glad she couldn’t resist making it herself as I’m pretty sure mine wouldn’t have looked like this.

Almost as lovely as the dress are my marigolds. They are gloriously ruffled which is odd as I’m pretty sure last years weren’t.. The cornflowers coming up in the path are staunchly blue;

After that soothing flower interlude I’m ending on something else griping my soul. Does the fact a woman lives amongst extreme poverty and crime (and is this surprising as chambermaiding is some of the most poorly paid and demeaning work around?) mean she is unlikely to be raped or sexually assaulted?

I am especially charmed by the comment made by a previous colleague comparing the foolishness of this situation to ludicrous cases where sex worker women claim they have been ‘raped’ or ‘assaulted’. Impossible no?

It was rhetorical. I’m off the garden to find some BT’s as I feel deeply in need.

Value systems

I feel if I’m going to be properly on trend I should write a post about Dads. I feel a bit odd though. Internally bruised. I’m not sure I could handle any more emotion. Suffice to say I really love my Dad and every day I appreciate him more. That relationships are rarely uncomplicated and some are worth working on.

An encounter at the weekend highlighted some of the things I love most about my Dad. A visit to the home of Steve’s brother-in-law who is very well off, through his own business endeavors and has furnished his beautiful lavish home with  high-spec objects and valuable original art left me with a bad taste in my mouth and a knot in my heart. I didn’t supervise my brats closely enough for his liking and he found it necessary to dress me down and list the cost of his acquisitions.

For a start I was struck by his concern over the three million painting while I’m not absolutely sure we’ll make the mortgage next month and how we live worlds apart. Also the fact the kids would never dream of touching a painting with their hands, they’d already surveyed the sculpture in the hall with interest, their hands tucked firmly behind their backs. We spend enough time in galleries for this rule to be engrained. At the time he was making his points Ida was cuddled on my lap and I was distracting her from inevitable toddler boredom by drawing funny animals on a notepad.

He’s used to venting freely I suppose – on people he pays not to deserve courtesy or respect and the fact he accorded me none means he has lost all of mine.

The point that seems most lodged in my tender side is that I think he believes as we can not purchase art in the way he does we could never appreciate it. Perhaps we didn’t understand it was expensive because he’d taken the price tags off or were too ignorant. Whereas the kids were on their very best careful behavior because they know to respect other people’s belongings and beautiful things.

I remember being fourteen and awkward. I’d just returned home after a separation and there was a painful distance between me and everyone and everything else. The only thing I was enjoying at school was art and I ate up the artists section in the library and books on my Dads shelves. I had a passion for expressionism, Burra, Klee and Egon Schiele  whose works I pored over and pinned postcards of up on my bedroom wall. There was a private gallery show of his Schiele’s early work and some sketches and my inarticulate spiky Dad took me up on the train to see it. It was in a very exclusive gallery where you had to make an appointment to enter and as we rang the bell I burned with the shame and embarrassment and awkwardness of it. I growled at him that they’d be expecting us to buy something and he replied calmly that for all they knew we might. “It’s not for people like us” I hissed at him vehemently and he swung me round and met my eyes, something my darling Dad doesn’t do often. He replied hotly along these lines, “Do you think he painted this stuff for them, the people with cheque books? Do you think beauty and truth only show when you put a coin in a slot, do you think Teutonic plates stop moving because someone has bought an acre on top of them?”  My dear Red old Dad. Familiarity with his socialism and marxist flirting, sitting bored senseless at countless trade union meetings and fund-raising, consciousness raising rally’s had dulled my eyes to his sincere belief in genuine equality. I loved him fiercely for it right then and now.

Poor Paul. I doubt he’s around kids much. I bet he was mostly busy while his boys were young. He seems driven to collect and possess. He’s buying up vinyl now, sitting back he says it’s for the sound quality but all he talks about are the odd pressings, what they cost him and how they’ll gain in price. This is why he’s so successful. Don’t get me wrong, he’s earned every pound I’m sure. He knows the price of all his beautiful displayed investment items but I’m not sure he knows the value of much.

See that all sounds very airy and who gives a damn. Still I spent an hour crying on my bed when we got home with the kids sat either side of me puzzled. Ida was blithely unaware but Zeph had picked up on the disapproval. We talked about it, the possible reasons behind it all, how he’d done nothing wrong and why I was so upset. Steve said later it’s because I wear my heart on my sleeve. Which is a massive overstatement of my recent attempts to live with a more open heart. I am the last person in the world to expect the things to be fair but it seems I want it fair for my children. I suspect this is going to be a hard lesson to relearn.

It could have also been that I had to physically restrain myself from shouting, losing my temper and mirroring the aggression aimed at me. The crescent marks from my fingernails on my forearms are testament to that. As I cradled my daughter on my lap I bit my tongue, mentally forcing myself to think the best of the person in front of me and to avoid a scene at the hastily arranged sixtieth birthday celebration of someone I like very much and who has a pretty unequal deal I think. It was so last-minute because she finally gave up hope of her husband or sons marking the day in any way.

My dad has already talked to me about his plans to do sixty special things with and for my mum next year as she’ll be sixty. As I write this I feel a surge of pride in his value system. Lovely Dad.

Hairy issues

What I think is that the Goddess inside me is as hairy as she bloody pleases.

A woman at the swimming pool congratulated me yesterday on being brave enough not to shave. I didn’t know what to say to her. For a start I was taken aback, I don’t know if I’m extraordinarily uptight but I wouldn’t dream of commenting, except in an extremely positive  way on someone elses appearance. We, (my sister and I,) were always brought up to believe beauty is all about the inside and that good manners are about making other people feel welcomed and comfortable and not about redrawing obscure rules in the sand to prove you are in the right. Unlike Julie Birchall et al I don’t believe in assigning uniforms to feminism. Surely high heels have piss all to do with anything? but a sliver of me understands that we de fur ourselves for the male gaze, although it’s usually other women who raise the hue and cry. Who can forget the witch hunt that pursued Julia Roberts at the merest glimpse of armpit fluff?

It does seem that not employing the razor, wax or fish odoured cream is infinitely more shocking than any piercing, tattoo combo. If you really feel you have to then fair enough – I have no wish to judge you but must you judge me? Maybe you could decide why you really have to succumb to the pressures of advertising, the rapacious greed of proctor and gamble , the unthinking impulse that it’s hygienic, compulsory and a badge of womanhood.

Say’s who? and why?

Maybe the sheer bulk of my “fine figure” really releases me from all the other magazine imperatives. Not completely as I still take the time to tweezer out the strange whiskers that appear with increasing regularity on my chin and face these days. Why is this? and how do they escape my notice until they’re inches long and resemble a cats whisker?

This Venus is furry, what of it?

Counting up my beautiful things today.  ≈ It’s lovely to see Ida on tip-top demonic form after a very sick weekend. Was heart wrenching seeing her all pale and subdued so watching her haring around at the park in the sunshine was deeply gratifying. ≈ Good to sit in the sun with friends watching the kids all shed shoes and socks and get very red in the face climbing, spinning and swinging. ≈ Zeph executing the perfect cart-wheel on our way across the grass to the gate on the way home. ≈ The mars bar ice creams N bought to the picnic. ≈ Nearly finishing the first knitted baby hat. ≈Ida, asleep in her cot with no attempt at nest-building.

regrets of a baited bear

It is a very grey day. As in it’s raining, the last day of the holidays and we are all tired and grumpy. I have losing-my-temper-like-a-fishwife remorse and I suspect Steve may have marrying-her niggles.

You see despite the fact that Ida was so bone tired she actually fell asleep at a reasonable hour in her own bed we didn’t have a great night after all. Due to the party in the church hall next to us which extended into the night and then into a loud, emotion and alcohol fueled dispute outside our bedroom window at about eleven thirty.

Something similar happened last Saturday so I had pent-up rage. Also a plastic bag of empty bottles and can’s that had been tossed over our fence. One of the cans hit Ida on the head.  I didn’t march straight round there with a lighted torch. I did spend half an hour composing an outraged letter for the priests.

So when Ida woke up for the second time and I had to cuddle her to calmness since she was frightened by all the shouting I went and indulged in a little shouting of my own.

Not helpful, not grownup, and not cool. Very satisfying though. Nothing  breaks up a gang of looming, leather clad, eastern european young men like a sleep deprived mother on the edge. I can’t even remember what I said – I know there was foul language, finger wagging and some ‘young man’ s.  All at the top of my voice.

I was almost instantly remorseful. This is not not sweating the small stuff. They were just stupid drunk men who were thoughtless. It’s hardly the end of the world. I feel ashamed.

I definitely have a temper. Mostly I keep a lid on it. I don’t really bear grudges either, it’s over quickly. Often I’m already feeling better and saying sorry as the other person reaches their peak. As I was dressing down those men last night I could see they were all abashed especially as they could see Ida upset on Steve’s shoulder. They weren’t mean – in fact it was hard to get them to stop baring their hearts and beating their foreheads in remorse and just leave. Blowing up like a pocket rocket Hulk does NOT mesh with my assuming-the-best-of-people, seeing-the-good life plan.

Must try harder.

I just asked Steve if he felt ashamed of me and he laughed and gave me a fizzy cola bottle. Maybe we can rename it as quirky. At least I’m not a sulker.

The sun has finally broken through the clouds, and is lighting up my smeary windows. Just in time for bed. It makes the lights that have been on for most of the dark day seem orange and odd. Toys are strewn all over the floor, Zeph and Ida spent the afternoon arranging the enormous cuddly animal collection into a  zoo and charging us for the privilege of being led around it. Money- sharping tom sawyers the both of them. They also took a lot of pleasure in burying Steve at one point;

 Ida is asleep in her bed. We have adopted a short-term plan of one of us lying on the bed til she drops off in her cot. It only takes half an hour and we can read. There’s already been a certain amount of, “no, no – let me..” On the way past Z’s room I looked in to say it’s lights off time as he’s got school in the morning but he was so pleading about being at a good bit in his book that I relented. I can’t resist a bit of bookish stuff and he totally plays me with it.

I love that.

Sticks and stones

So have you read or heard some of the extensive media coverage of the Slutwalk? There’s one due over here in London talked about here on the BBC.

I’ve read some great posts and discussions about it and generally all positive. The most dissention seems to be about the language of it – I’ve read some really articulate posts and heard many discussions about  the rejection of this sexual hate crime language.

It’s one of those things where I find myself astride a fence unable to decide what I think. Sometimes I loathe the way I feel so uncomfortable having an opinion. It’s one thing being open to other people’s position, it’s another being to damn wishy-washy to lay my cards on the ground and stand on them.

So I’ve spent the last few days turning it over internally. Listening out for the bubbles of coherent thought popping on the surface of my muddy primeval swamp of a subconscious.

While I understand the power, both open and insidious, of language I can’t work myself up over slut and cunt. Let me be very clear – I am absolutely in opposition to the statement that provoked the whole slutwalk protest. It is rapists who are responsible for sex attacks not short skirts.

Slut and cunt though…I use these words a lot, slut – as in my sluttish behavior, as in I’m a dreadful sluttish slattern who wouldn’t hesitate to wipe a dirty teaspoon on her skirt and offer it to her friend to use. I use it light-heartedly between friends – I can’t think I’ve ever used it as a greeting or an insult. Cunt is a word is I regularly use as an anatomical description and an insult. I spent too much time in my youth hanging out with a very leery south london geezer. It has entered my (immense) swearing lexicon. I just can’t seem to find any guilt about this. (Anyone who knows me will see how extraordinary this is from a woman who apologises to passing strangers when it starts to rain…)

Are words just a conduit to the intent behind them? I’m not trying to reclaim those two – I just use them when they seem appropriate to me. Does me make me an unwitting puppet to  The patriarchal Man?

When a bullet if fired through a gun is it the hardware’s fault or the finger on the trigger? Are words the bullet or the gun? I think language is the gun that delivers the bullets of hate. That it is the intent behind the word that delivers the hate or otherwise. (no, you’re quite right – I wandered off track there.)

Overwhelmingly I think – aren’t there more important things to be enraged, politicised by,to be motivated to change, to talk talk talk about – like the shocking inequality of women’s pay, the glass ceiling, the lack of female MP’s representing us in parliament, the rise of domestic violence amongst our teenage young women, the commercial sexualisation of our children, the astounding low conviction rate in this country’s rape cases, the number of women still killed every year in their own homes by spouses, the marginalizing of lone parents – the majority of whom are women…. pause for breath…. These are just the ones that spring instantly to mind.

 I know there are a million billion trillion more important things to disagree about than whether I’m a slut, cunt, lady or woman. We’re all sisters and this bickering over labels feels like divide and rule to me.

It’s a beautiful thing, my card is on the floor and – whoop – I’m standing on it.

Though obviously open to anyone else’s opinion…. 

Calm down dear…

Well, it’s very satisfying all round to see the smiling, caring new man, new Tory party mask slip a little. Oh look – it’s a pompous, public school, Eton tailed, over privileged chauvinist, gosh – I was fooled by that bicycle.

Oops now I mention it perhaps the heartless slashing of essential benefits for vulnerable people, the smashing of the Surestart system – the first real chance of eradicating child poverty or the hypocritical removal of frontline NHS services and the dismantling of the free health service was,  perhaps, a little clue.

 Medea bless Angela Eagle for her brilliant response – I lifted this below from this article;

But Eagle said she had been “patronised by better people than the prime minister”, adding that Cameron should instead be apologising for the economy, which had “effectively flatlined for six months”.

She told BBC News: “I don’t think any modern man would have expressed himself in that way.

“The prime minister is responsible for what he says in the Commons. I think if there is an apology to make it should be for the dreadful growth figures we have seen today, which demonstrated that the economy has effectively flatlined for six months.”

She said it was up to Cameron “as to whether he wants to annoy 51% of the population”.

Although I was jaw clenchingly furious for a moment I agree it’s not exactly the end of the world. It was a pleasure to see Cameron slightly rattled but this ridiculous toddleresque form of debate usually turns my stomach. More Punch and Judy than democracy in action it seems the biggest blusterers and the loudest voices win the points. I wonder if all this unleashed testosterone and ball swinging is why those benches seem  filled with public school clones?

Parliament is hardly representative is it? and before we even tackle class or ethnicity I’m talking gender.

Why are there so few women MP’s? Well this campaign has some interesting points to make Women in parliament.

 Lilith love the Fawcett society.

Right, I’m off to bed with a trashy crime novel. I’ll be tackling the Monarchy tomorrow – yes it was a nice dress – yes they seem perfectly pleasant but  it’s all about meritocracy in this house don’cha know – don’t get me started on the hideous “princess” phenomena. I read Ida the Paperbag Princess at bedtime tonight and will keep it up until she leaves this house.

Overdue catch up

I’ve had a blog wobble.

It may have been apparent since I’ve broken my silent post-once-a-day resolution.

I’ve had some internal musing to do and a bit of friend sounding board to try. I think I knew my position logically and rationally but was waiting for my emotions to catch up. Over tea my friend Erika says my instinctive creature brain has retreated to its cave to process the morass of feelings. I like this image, I see my internal child having a few tantrums, breaking some stuff, having a nap, letting the cogs turn.

Without meaning to be mysterious (not my usual remit at all, over sharer as I am) I am doing my best to tread lightly as this is not just my tangled tale. Suffice it to say a seemingly light yet maliciously intentioned comment reminded me I was exposing my life and my children to the world. I felt vulnerable and reverted to an acquired pattern of fearful behavior.

The presence of your eyes here make me feel slightly stilted and self conscious. (No, no – not yours. His.) That, I’m sure will pass. What pleases me immensely today after some much overdue self-examination is that it has revealed that I am no longer afraid of this in any way. It turns out that my extended family’s feelings do not measure up with the need to protect and succor my own children. The only people I truly felt I needed to protect have long since departed this mortal coil. So your constant pushing of the issue and sheet-over-the-head power-hungry bogeyman behavior has backfired in that I will not hesitate to tell and pursue a restraining order if you continue to intrude into my life and the life of my partner and children.

It turns out that the legacy and burden of guilt I’ve been lugging around has dispersed. Despite set backs I can say (and believe – that’s the hard bit) that I have nothing to feel guilty about here. (Have no fear reader I still have plenty of guilt for other stuff – *turns to see daughter engrossed in cbeebies as her mother selfishly examines her phsyce in front of the PC…and it’s a lovely day* Gah )

I have no secrets from the people I love the most – and through the last few years of hard work I have faith, trust and confidence in the love of the people who do not know so you are the only one who has anything to lose now. So, frankly, I suggest you fuck off and attempt to sort yourself out, if there is anything left worth salvaging.

If you can’t resist continuing to lurk about here – feel free. I couldn’t give a flying fuck. Please do enjoy peering at my wonderful, amazing, happy and secure children. Do see the beautiful things that abound in my life and my whole-hearted joy in them. Read about the incredible, varied, talented circle of friends I share time with because we like each other. Marvel at my pleasure in this exciting new blogging adventure that enhances my days. See how complete and genuinely happy my moments are despite my damaged and flawed nature. Then crawl back to whatever miserable noisy hostel or fly speckled bed sit you call home at the moment. Perhaps you’ll find some solace at the bottom of a bottle of value whisky. Perhaps you won’t.  What a shame your own children loathe you and don’t want you in their lives, what a shame you are unable to keep up any kind of relationship with another human being. That the friends you make only last ’til closing time or when the cash runs out. And that’s all before they hear my story.

 What a pity I couldn’t give a rats arse.

Marching on

On the third of march 2011 seven women in Abidjan on the Ivory coast were mown down by gunfire.

They were there, protesting peacefully about Laurent Gbagbo who has squatted in presidential power refusing to leave after he was legally voted out. Mothers, daughters and sisters took to the streets to peacefully show their support for the recognised majority holder in that vote; Alassane Outtara.

Seven of them paid with their lives.

We don’t realise how intensely privileged we are to have such an established right to protest. Todays news is regularly filled with people who face so much to stand up and say, “We disagree… we want something else. ” People who understand the risk and brave it.

To the people who feel that the men and women sitting behind a banks counter ready to pay in cheques or help you with withdrawals are in fact the fat cats who hedgefunded us into financial failure and therefore deserve to be stormed, terrified and to have bricks thrown at them, the people who possibly have confused the teenage fashion fan on a minimum wage working in Topshop for a tax exile, I say to you, frankly – you cunts.

Sorry to anyone offended by such frank cussing but to be honest those pathetic, adrenalin fueled, short-sighted, self righteous arseholes – have to me – just pissed all over those women’s corpses. Frankly if I could get my hands on them I’d be trying out a few of my previous thoughts about physically violent women. At the very least they’d be on my time-out step having a good think about their actions.

Zeph, Ida and I had a fantastic march. We were surrounded by a massive range of people – all passionate about showing their opposition to these cuts to vital services and heard many options and possibilities for  genuine alternatives.

I came away tired, happy and optimistic. I still retain that feeling although I am dismayed about the huge media coverage of a minority. I hope their actions have not totally overshadowed the rest of us who came and stood shoulder to shoulder, (watch it – I feel a Comrade rising to my lips..)

Zeph was amazing, really engaged in why we were there and helpful. Ida would have liked a banner to wave. I saw her drinking in the atmosphere and the people around us were charmed by her regal waving to the applauding people on the pavements. I’m pretty sure she thought they were there for her.

The food bribery held out until the journey home and thankfully both kids fell asleep on the coach back. Possibly the most hair-raising aspect of the day was hearing Reg, sharing the seat in front with Zeph, sharing some of his huge store of filthy stories and jokes. I had a brief chat with Zeph about context. He lets me know he knows what context is and do I? Since I’m the one who used the C word at sports day. I subside.

Today has been full of small important pleasures. We mooched around the garden.

 I’ve used up all the sand laying a couple of slabs. Going to have to beg another lift…

We planted seeds. Courgettes, peas, borlotti beans, snapdragons, lupins, sweetpeas, teasels, cress and a mysterious packet in Italian that I have assumed is mixed salad leaves.

We look at all the different daffodils, Ida shows me her favourite;

I appreciate it all very much. I make breadrolls and soup for tea. We all get muddy. Zeph counts the chits on our five charlotte potatoes. It’s a fantastic day. 

Smiling.

Nothing like biting your friends heads off and pissing them off.

Does everyone denigrate the place they live in? My hometown is on the greyer edge I suppose. To small to be urban, too large to be rural, a financially depressed demographic , no university, no large employers and a failing industrial tradition. Our spa failed next to Cheltenham’s, our docks failed against Bristol’s shipbuilding, our canals are stilted and the cattle market closed. Stroud’s sheep sold better and now they excel in the hippy arts. 

Essentially though it is the same as any other place. Full of people. I take myself to the places I go. It seems I am inescapable and I presume the same goes for the rest of you.

You hear a lot about how people don’t smile in England. Especially in London, Grimsby, Swindon…Gloucester. In cosy rural idylls and primitive fishing, coffee growing communities smiles are ten a penny. Or goats head – or LET’s or whatever passes for bartering tools there.

I do not find this is this case. Let me assure you cynical lip lifters – I’m no Pollyanna – I’m sure many could spring to my defense here especially N and L who are bearing my current miserable brunt. I’m sure a lot of this is statistical – If you only try out the smiling a couple of times you are almost certainly going to receive and remember confusion or rebuttal. Which leads you to say that people do not smile in Gloucester. If you maintain the habit of smiling and saying hello to people as though they are good friends you’ll inevitably get a higher success rate. Obviously you ‘ll also get people asking if they know you and a full range of nutters, aggression, incomprehension and irritation but they’ll be easier to forget when you have a few beams back in return. People you see everyday on the way to school, at the bus stop, outside the shop will become part of a regular network , seem familiar and your grey streets will seem kinder.

I think my key word here is seem. Because it’s all about the seeming. Personally and privately in my heart I am convinced the world is seventies concrete smeared in the algae of cruelty and coldness. In the icy vault of my inner being which is forever misshapen and flawed I think the people roaming around on their hind legs disguised under cloth costumes are the kind of metaphorical wolves who abuse and torture for amusement and to pass the time. Every man I see could take my children and break them. With broken bottles,fists and flaying pornographic gaze and open up a void in them to match my own and  every woman could turn their head or provide an appreciative audience whilst braying their approval.

Or they could be the kind of person who’ll smile back and return to their day of doing the best they can, failing sometimes chock full as they are of their own past and good intentions.

Which world do I prefer for Zeph and Ida? (I’m kind of hoping this question can stand as rhetorical) So I stamp down what I’ve decided to label my madness and presume the outside world and the people in it, even in this corner are inherently beautiful and to show the kids by my example that this is so.  In the early hours I will worry that this is wrong. That I should be warning them of and preparing them for all the wolves under the sheep’s clothing. Or at the very least I should reveal to them that it’s all just veils of seeming.

This way lies madness and also a truth along the lines of just as colour is formed in our own heads by the angles of light hitting our retinas our perception of this world is formed in how our heart accepts it.

Is this liberating or another millstone? Every survivor will recognise the therapist talk which at first run-by strikes you as trite. That you have choices about your legacy. That you can choose to move forward. That this makes you the string puller and not just a puppet. Also means that this wallowing around, substance dependency, inability to function is something you’re choosing. You can F right off was my first response. Not my continuing one as my present life testifies.

 What does all this ranting waffle mean? Ummm… that seeing the BT’s is a muscle you have to flex. That Z’s book day costume of a wolf has crept into my subconscious. That I’m a right mardy self righteous cow. That I am authentically myself wherever I’m sitting, be it the British museum or Haven. That softplay places are filled with children who are all savages despite their class. That I’m going to keep smiling and serenely assuring myself that most people smile back.

Must get on with that wallpaper.